Thyroid Nodules

Also known as: benign thyroid nodules, malignant thyroid nodules.

What are thyroid nodules?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of the base of the neck that produces hormones that regulate many important functions of the body (e.g. breathing, heart rate, brain and nerve function, body weight, temperature muscle strength and many others). A thyroid nodule (or lump) is a fairly rare unusual firm growth of cells that occur within the thyroid gland and there are several types. While thyroid nodules are frequently benign in children (non-cancerous) they are more likely to be cancerous than they are in adults.

What causes thyroid nodules?

The reasons why thyroid nodules occur are not clear, however they seem associated with number of factors which include a deficiency of iodine, a family or personal history of thyroid disease, older age group (5-18 years), exposure to therapeutic or environmental radiation, and being a pubertal girl. Some are associated with abnormalities of genes/chromosomes.

What are the signs/symptoms of thyroid nodules?

Usually a lump is seen or felt in the front of the neck. Benign (non-cancerous) tend to be movable, soft and non-tender. Malignant nodules are usually hard, fixed (non-movable), and frequently have spread to the neck lymph nodes. While the majority of thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms some children present with symptoms of altered thyroid function (more - hyperthyroidism, or less - hypothyroidism thyroid hormone) or nerve involvement (pain in the neck, difficulty swallowing and hoarseness).

What are thyroid nodule care options?

Some thyroid nodules may be simply observed with close observation and follow up. Treatments will depend on the type of nodule and its effects. Medical and/or surgical therapy may be required.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 11/6/2017 3:56:18 PM

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